Most people know they have the option to file a workers’ compensation claim if they’re injured while on the job, but they don’t know how difficult it can be to receive fair compensation until they’ve tried. If you’re reading this blog today, we assume you’ve either been given the runaround by your employers’ insurer or know someone else who had trouble getting the settlement they needed.
Choosing to work with a lawyer is an excellent first step in making sure this doesn’t happen to you. However, if you truly want the best results in your claim, you need to take steps to weed out the mediocre workers’ compensation firms in your area. We’re hoping you’ve found this blog before contacting any workers’ compensation lawyers, so you can use everything we’ll share in your search. However, even if you’ve already talked to one or more firms, these tips can help you perform due diligence before signing any contracts.
Tip 1: Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Always Work on Contingency
We almost made this tip #0, because if you see any personal injury lawyer who does not work on a contingency basis, you should immediately move on to your next option, and perhaps warn your friends and family as well. No decent personal injury or workers’ compensation firm will ask you to pay them up front for representing you. This is standard throughout the field because we know most injury victims don’t have the financial means to pay attorney fees out-of-pocket.
In a contingency setup, the firm representing you only gets paid if you do, typically receiving a set percentage of the final settlement. This setup allows everyone to access legal help, no matter their financial situation. It also incentivizes lawyers to do their best to maximize clients’ claims.
Tip 2: It’s Worth it to Search for a Firm with Extensive Workers’ Comp Experience
Just because a law firm claims to take workers’ compensation cases doesn’t mean its lawyers have experience in the field. Any attorney can accept a claim in a practice area they’ve never worked in. What you want to know is how many workers’ compensation cases a team has fought, and how many were won.
While workers’ compensation has some crossover with personal injury, your lawyer should be comfortable discussing the unique facets of workers’ compensation law. It’s even better if they have experience fighting claims in your industry or the injury/illness you suffered. You may find yourself facing the same defenses and challenges as another client the attorney has helped—which means they’ll already know how to fight back.
Tip 3: Getting Multiple Legal Opinions Can Help You Spot Dishonest Firms
When people are diagnosed with serious medical conditions and/or recommended an expensive form of treatment, they often seek a second opinion with another doctor before making any decisions. You should do the same with your workers’ comp case.
Most lawyers will freely tell you what to expect if you hire them for a workers’ compensation case. If one firm gives you an answer that’s far rosier than anyone else’s, it’s probably not a sign that they’re better—it’s a sign they’re willing to lie to get your business. These firms may also try to rush you into a decision before you can consult with another lawyer.
Attorneys who have been fully honest in their consultation and truly want the best for you won’t try to stop you from seeking other opinions. Speaking to multiple attorneys is the best way to find a firm with integrity that is a good fit for your needs and case.
Tip 4: Good Lawyers Make Themselves Directly Available to Answer Client Questions and Concerns
During a workers’ compensation claim, it’s common to have questions and concerns, especially if you’re a natural worrier. You may want to know what’s happening with your claim or how soon you will receive your settlement. Having an attorney who is open and willing to talk to you individually can make all the difference in your level of trust for them.
Some firms take on more cases than their attorneys can handle and then shuffle them off to paralegals or legal assistants. While bringing on support staff is essential to building the strongest case possible, the work should always be overseen by your attorney. If an attorney talks about texting their clients or visiting them at home, you’ll know they are personally invested in clients’ well-being. If they only give out the front office line and the name of their assistant, it’s a sign you might not talk to them very much, if at all, once your case begins.
Tip 5: You Can (And Should) Ask Questions in Consultations
When it comes down to it, legal consultations are basically job interviews. That means both sides should be evaluating each other to see if the partnership will be a good fit. A lawyer will mostly focus on the details of your case and situation so they can determine whether your claim is in their wheelhouse. The information you need is a bit more diverse. If the conversation doesn’t naturally turn to the must-knows in this article, you should not hesitate to bring them up.
A lawyer’s answer can be telling in more than one way. What they say matters—but it can also matter how they say it. If a lawyer seems irritated when you ask questions or gives you vague or blow-off answers, this could be a preview of the way you’ll be treated if you hire them. Look for an attorney who not only provides you with clear information and answers but also one who takes the time to understand what you’re asking. Someone who can’t see things from your point of view may not be the best person to advocate for your needs.
Finding the Right Fit Matters
The synchronicity between a law firm and a client is a big part of success. The best attorney-client relationships work like partnerships: The client receives proactive updates on their case and is given the honest guidance they need to make the right decisions. Finding someone who communicates well with you will lead to a smoother process and more confidence on your end. Sometimes, a law firm may check all the boxes but not feel right—and in that case, it’s okay to keep looking.
With over 100 years of collective experience, our team has helped clients from all walks of life. More than a few have come to us with stories of frustrating legal experiences in their past. We don’t want you to end up with something like this.
Hiring a law firm to handle your workers’ compensation claim should make your life easier. By following these tips, you can find an attorney who will do just that.
The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm has handled major workers’ compensation cases in Central and Southern Illinois. Call us at (217) 394-5885 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.